In this confrontational, self-aware cut at the age old love story, Cathal Gunning has taken the tropes, honed them to pointed jibes, and dug deep into how we view romance in ourselves and in others. However, under the saccharine sweetness is a bitter core which drives the characters toward the unexpected. Gunning has done well to achieve this feat in a first novel where so many may lose the thread of self-consciousness which holds this novel together so well.
It was this sense that you could only ever feel in Dublin, and anywhere else where you could get any half-decent pills.
Title: Such Small Hands Author: Andres Barba Publisher: Portobello Available: 3rd August 2017 (ooooh we got an advance copy, thanks Portobello) Rating: 3/5*
It’s been a long time since I’ve read anything for review, and even longer since I’ve been so challenged by such a short book. Such Small Hands takes us by the hand and leads us into the strange life of Marina as she assimilates into the orphanage following a car accident in which “Her father died instantly, her mother in the hospital”.
Featured Reader: A devilishly handsome man hiding behind a book. AKA Moz but I prefer the mystery man title.
Currently Reading: Destination Unknown by Agatha Christie.
Favourite Part/Line: While trying to recruit a spy, a character pitches the mission in the least appealing way possible, and yet it works: “I’m suggesting another method. Rather a sporting method really. There’s some excitement in it too. I’ll be fair with you. There’s just a hundred to one chance you mightn’t die. But I don’t believe under the circumstances, that you’d really object by that time.” It’s that bleak humour that makes me love Christie, a blasé flaunting of the ridiculous that somehow seems plausible as we read it.
As with last time, if you would like to take part in this ‘What’s London Reading’ feature here on TheCrackedSpineBlog and are free for a quick photo and chat please use the contact page of the blog, or you can message our Instagram or Facebook pages.
About four months ago, I had the great pleasure of meeting a complete stranger who had as little a clue who I was as I did he. That stranger turned out to be the much (much, much, much) acclaimed Alan Hollinghurst. He also turned out to be leaving so our actual encounter was incredibly brief, details of which can be found here.
Having owned up to the shame of turning up to lauch of a book about an author knowing literally nothing about him, I resolved to educate myself on the work of the eponymous author. My partner ensured I made good on this by buying me a copy of The Line of Beauty for Christmas. As usual, I’m way behind the crowd on this one, but the political satire of this treatise in hedonism and conservatism certainly hasn’t expired in the interim.
Featured Reader: Tash, a fellow blogger, from The Bottom Step who very kindly agreed to be this week’s feature as she is aiming to complete 52 books in the 52 short weeks of 2017! We met in the in the beautiful Bloomsbury Coffee House where we grabbed a cup of surprisingly affordable and delicious coffee (well an Earl Grey Tea Latte for me). Currently Reading: Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty. Favourite Thing About the Book So Far: I really like reading it because it’s set in London so I can easily walk around the streets and follow where the main character is at the part I’m reading. Or I can just look up and see I’m on a street and be like ‘Oh this is where that thing happened!’ And I love the way the story builds, giving lots of tantalising clues to the main plot and as the story evolves you have to connect the dots.
Featured Reader: Serena, a masters student at UCL ( and one of Moz’s friends kind enough to pose for this kind of awkward angle). Currently Reading: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. Favourite Sentence/Passage: “Just because a man has made enough money to come to Gion and waste it however he chooses doesn’t mean he’s fun to be around. In fact, many of the men are accustomed to being treated with a great deal of respect. Sitting back with their hands on their knees and big frowns on their faces is about as much work as they plan to do in the way of being entertaining.”
I’m very excited to have finally gotten around to starting this feature on the blog as it’s been a long time in development and has taken me a while to actually ask anyone to be in a picture for it.
A huge thanks to the lovely Serena for volunteering and being a great model, even or this amateur photographer!
If you would like to take part in this ‘What’s London Reading’ feature and are free for a quick photo and chat please use the contact page of the blog, or you can message our Instagram or Facebook pages.